MBA

Why Smart Doesn’t Make You Happy

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It is time to get crafty. Job crafting, that is. 

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Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.

OMBA takes the Bend Venture Conference

The numbers have been crunched, the presentation decks prepared, and nerves are on high. Your carefully thought out idea is about to become reality…but only if you win. Welcome to the Bend Venture Conference.

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As an MBA student in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track, I expected to be provided with insights into the start-up world within a classroom context. But when I found myself, only three-weeks into my MBA program, traveling to Bend, Oregon for my first venture conference I realized that the Oregon MBA exceeds expectations.

A venture conference is an event where ideas turn into actions. A little research on the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) website led me to expect a multi-day entrepreneurship-focused event and close to $1 million in prize money. The start-up companies were broken into three categories of competition: Social Impact, Early Stage, and Growth Stage. 15 founders were going to pitch their start-up ideas to groups of investors. And I was going to be part of it.

After arriving at the Tower Theater in Bend, my classmates and I got settled in for the first round of competition: Social Impact. Here, companies were formed around the idea of helping others. We saw presentations centered around water conservation, fighting human sex trafficking, and blood-borne disease diagnostic tools. To round out this philanthropic group, Rebekah Bastian, the Vice President of Product at Zillow took the stage as the key note speaker. Bastian discussed how she is leveraging her role at the United States’ leading online real estate marketplace to help end homelessness.

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The Early Stage competition kicked off Day Two. Here we saw six founders pitch their hopeful companies for three minutes each. Again, the company focuses varied. Anything from inner-tire suspension to rainwater collection systems to crowdsourcing apps could be found onstage. These new companies were competing for $15,000 and the vote was decided by the audience. I was amazed to know that my ballet could help the company I most believed in launch.

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The Growth Stage competition rounded out the conference. The five companies were seeking seeding funding, typically in the amount of 1 million dollars. These companies – like Cartogram, Hubb, and Outdoor Project – have all been around for a few years and the founders were practiced presenters. The keynote speaker for Day Two was Loni Stark, the Senior Director of Strategy and Product Marketing at Adobe and the co-founder of Stark Insider, a West Coast media brand. Stark shared her thoughts on the significance of digital on customer experience and marketing.

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As a future entrepreneur and hopeful starter-upper like myself, the face value of attending the BVC was obvious. It was a chance to see how entrepreneurs and investors were going to come together to bring the next big thing to market. I was able to learn impactful tips, like what to wear on stage, at what pace to speak, and how to stand while presenting. I was able to apply the business terms I have been learning in my MBA classes to a real-world application. But the most valuable lesson I learned at the BVC that it is always possible to turn your passion into your career.

There is little scarier than introducing yourself as a Master’s student specializing in innovation and entrepreneurship to a room of innovative entrepreneurs. There is a pressure to have that next million-dollar idea researched and ready. So when you don’t have it all figured out, it is easy to feel apprehensive. But the BVC showed me how to discover that million-dollar idea… Or at least where to start. Despite how varied the ideas presented on stage were, the theme was all the same: do what you love. Discover your passion and work within that space. And if no one is doing exactly what you want to, go out and build that company from the bottom up.

I had high expectations for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. But looking back at the connections made, ideas inspired, and knowledge grasped while attending the BVC with the classmates, I realize that the Oregon MBA is already exceeding expectations.

 

Written by Tess Meyer

Tess is a 2018 MBA in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship track. With a background in Psychology and experience managing extensive teams, she is passionate about driving human potential. Tess' aim is to enter career services where she can encourage sustainable career passion for clients and businesses alike. When she is not writing or studying, Tess can be found hiking, reading, or trying a new restaurant. Learn more on www.frombrowneyes.com.

From Cal Bear to Oregon Duck: Highlights from San Francisco

Earlier this month, the entire first-year MBA cohort had the opportunity to spend the first week of April in the San Francisco Bay Area visiting with top executives in a wide variety of companies.

In just four days, we met with Levi Strauss, Blackrock, Strava, Wells Fargo, the Federal Reserve, Farmland LP, Capital One, LinkedIn, Google, Women’s Startup Lab, Interwest Partners, Bay Area Impact Investing Initiative, RSF Social Finance, Clif Bar and Sierra Nevada Brewery! We also had a little time to explore downtown San Francisco, take pictures under the Golden Gate Bridge, and spend the evening playing in the Exploratorium.

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

Showing our Oregon pride under the Golden Gate Bridge

While I was excited to get insight into the inner workings of some incredibly successful companies, I was also thrilled to be returning to the Bay Area for the first time in a few years. I did my undergrad at the University of California, Berkeley, and I was eager to show my new friends around all of my old favorite spots in the city.

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

Oregon Ducks take over the UC-Berkeley Campus (My alma mater)

 

It would be hard to pick my favorite experience from our week in the Bay, but I was able to narrow it down to a list of my top three:

  1. Clif Bar

Going in to the trip, Clif Bar was the company that I was most excited to visit, and the office tour did not disappoint. Between the rock-climbing wall in the employee gym, bike parts repurposed as door handles, an endless supply of snack bars, and a program that allows employees to volunteer for an unlimited number of paid hours, it would be hard not to want a job at Clif. Our group was lucky enough to meet with the CFO, who shared stories about what it was like to work for the company 15 years ago when the CEO turned down a $120 million offer and decided to keep Clif Bar private. As far as authentic companies go, Clif Bar is the real deal.

  1. RSF Social Finance

One of the primary benefits of the experiential learning trips is the opportunity to be exposed to an array of companies in many different industries. While I am not personally interested in a career in impact investing, I really enjoyed learning about RSF Social Finance. RSF is a nonprofit financial services organization dedicated to transforming the way the world works with money. The visit with RSF drew together the interests of all three centers (finance, entrepreneurship, and sustainability) in attendance, as we had the chance to talk about social responsibility, financial analysis, and innovation and entrepreneurship within the company.

  1. Net Impact Meet Up

My third and final highlight of the trip was our meet up at UC-Berkeley’s graduate chapter of Net Impact, a nonprofit organization of students and professionals dedicated to using business skills for social and environmental causes. On Tuesday night, students from our chapter at UO met with students from the chapter at UC-Berkeley. We compared professional interests, internship prospects, and our plans for the Net Impact conference in Seattle, Washington in November. Of course, we also told stories about our experiences in grad school and laughed over local brews. This highlight might be biased, but it was eye-opening to see my college campus through the eyes of my new friends.

Despite feeling slightly nostalgic for my college days in Berkeley (who isn’t nostalgic for their alma mater), my biggest takeaway from San Francisco was a renewed appreciation for the MBA program at the University of Oregon. The experiential learning trips are just one of the many benefits of the Oregon MBA, and I feel really lucky to have a cohort full of intelligent, passionate, collaborative and enthusiastic students with which I can share these trips. Until next time, San Francisco!

Written by Katie Clark

Katie is a second year MBA student in the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Over the summer, Katie worked for Happy Family Brands as the Corporate Social Responsibility Intern, where she managed multiple supply chain projects and provided employee education on topics in sustainability. She hopes to bring this experience and her MBA coursework to a strategic sustainability position in a mission-driven company in the outdoor product or natural foods industry.

Embracing Change

Change. It can be exhilarating but painful. All too frequently if you want to achieve anything worthwhile you have to make the change yourself. For some, this means taking stock of where you are, where you want to go and determining what actions you must take to get there. It’s daunting. It’s new. It’s exactly what happens when considering changing something in your personal or professional life, and it might lead you to consider earning your MBA.

All of the current MBA candidates at Oregon decided to make a change, and it led us here. Our program is known for its intimate, small cohort with a unique approach to preparing us for our futures. Everyone made a personal decision by coming here, but we had a lot of information to help us make that choice.

Oregon MBA

Oregon’s MBA program is divided into four Centers of Excellence:

This division allows candidates to gain crucial business acumen while building a specialized skillset in small sub-cohorts. “We know our students more personally than we would be able to if we were a 100 student program,” said Michele Henney, Program Manager, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Senior Instructor of Accounting. “In that situation (100+ students), there is no way we could provide the same services.” Each Center’s students are a part of the Oregon MBA program, meaning you know and collaborate with individuals working towards specialized skill sets unlike your own. Although different, each center provides valuable opportunities to its own sub-cohort and is continually looking to improve.

“Our green MBA is really strong. We’re in a region where sustainability and our connection to businesses is very strong. Not every region can say that,” said Dr. Laura Strohm, Program Manager, Center for Sustainable Business Practices. Industry expertise differs from center to center, but each emphasizes the need to prepare candidates to be leaders.

“I think the best thing we can do is prepare students to be comfortable taking leadership positions, analyzing the situations that they find themselves in, because usually MBAs will end up in places where someone looks to them for expertise even though they might not have it,” said Nathan Lillegard, Program Manager, Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, Instructor of Business.

One of the most compelling reasons to select an MBA program is the culture established by current students, faculty and staff. At Oregon, candidates are motivated by factors like entering a new industry, learning skills to use in a different job function and work locations. “A lot of times the people drawn to the University of Oregon are people who want to stay and work in the Pacific Northwest,” Henney said. These motivations, though not always focused on the highest possible salary, are used by faculty and staff to inspire candidates to think about their careers early, and often.

“You really spend your two years here either landing internships or landing jobs,” said John Hull, Executive Director, Business Innovation Institute, Assistant Dean for Centers of Excellence. Hull stresses the importance of hitting the ground running in that pursuit of change, something candidates might be apprehensive about. “’Wait a minute, I thought I was stepping away from my career for 2 years for education?…Well no, I’m actually supposed to be working on my career stuff from day 1.’”

With strong alumni connections and a growing office of individuals devoted to the career paths of OMBA candidates, Oregon is empowering graduates to aim not for jobs, but careers.

“What makes us different is that you can have a meaningful connection within the industry week in and week out if you want it,” said Paul Swangard, Managing Director, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Woodard Family Foundation Fellow. “I think we are the only ones who have a standing international travel experience that is imbedded into the framework of the program, and we are trying to differentiate ourselves geographically.”

Swangard’s reference of the yearly Engaging Asia trip taken by second-year MBA candidates is just one of multiple experiential learning trips taken by the Oregon MBA. (Read about the Engaging Asia trip here) Centers travel as far away as Mumbai, India to gain a global perspective. Other domestic trips take MBA candidates to NYC, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, Portland. These trips bridge the gap between where candidates once were to where they want to be, allowing them to see, taste, and smell what a particular industry is like.

Change can be challenging but also exhilarating, fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re thinking about making a change, consider how you’ll make it happen. The destination is the goal but the journey there can be equally important.

Written by kkostal@uoregon.edu

After a college experience filled with opportunities in journalism, creative advertising and guerrilla marketing Kostal began her career with a cross-country move from the University of Illinois to Las Vegas. There she worked as a producer in an event and media production company. She crafted sizable proposals to secure client projects worth over $100,000 in the pressure-cooker environment of live events. She spent the last five years at a Chicago medical liability insurance company in the risk management division. While there Kate utilized her event planning and marketing skills to promote, plan and execute multiple live events for over 10,000 policyholders and their staff throughout Illinois. During that time she also acted as the Sponsorship Chair for the Chicago Triathlon Club on a volunteer basis and earned her RRCA coaching certification for endurance runners. Another cross-country move followed when she decided to pursue her passion for sports as a career. Kate’s marketing experience, communication skills and drive to succeed will be an asset in any organization. Her passion for sports will lead her to pursue opportunities more closely tied to sports business after graduation, focusing on sponsorship and marketing.

Defining ‘Sustainable Business’: Net Impact Conference 2014

Greenbiz, B-Corp, the three Ps, LEED Certified, CSR, ESG, SRI.  What do all these acronyms and buzz words mean?  And what exactly is a career in sustainable business?  If you’re like me, six weeks into the Sustainable Business Practices MBA at the University of Oregon, that last one is a pretty important question.

The Net Impact Conference, held in Minneapolis Minnesota, came at a perfect time to help me start to understand the broad variety of applications of sustainability in business.

The annual conference brings together thousands of students and business professionals who want to make a positive impact on the world.  It is a weekend for networking, inspirational speeches, exchanging ideas, and pushing boundaries

At this year’s conference, I heard about B-Corps from Andrew Kassoy, the founder of B Lab; discussed the pivotal role women will play in development with Suzanne Fallender (the director of the Global Girls and Women Initiative through Intel) and Faziun Kamal (founder of sourceFK a company that is bringing Bangladesh women out of poverty one silk garment at a time); and was able to ask Jason McBriarty, the Director of Global Community Affairs for Levi Strauss nagging questions surrounding cause marketing and engaging consumers specifically in regards to the Waterless campaign.  I also examined the future of sustainability in business with leaders from Kiva, Microsoft, Best Buy, The National Parks Service, Honest Tea and many like-minded undergraduate and MBA students from across the country.

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Levi’s Water>Less Campaign advertisement started in 2012.

The presentations and conversations provided me with layers of insight into the vague world of sustainable business and by Saturday’s closing ceremony I had come to realize that there might not be one exact answer to my question.  Sustainability takes many forms.  Sometimes it’s providing girls and women in Africa access to the Internet.  Sometimes it’s a certification to help companies measure what matters.  Sometimes it’s a marketing campaign that tells you not to wash your jeans.

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Intel global girls and women initiative. Karibu Centre, Kenya.

What intrigues me about integrating sustainability and business is that it’s open ended.  The Net Impact Conference excited me about the many options and helped me see that no matter what I decide to pursue after business school, I will have the opportunity to impact the world in a positive way.  There are countless ways to alleviate the issues facing our world.  ‘Sustainable business’ just comes down to business that commits to lessen, rather than increase, those issues.  They pledge to use their power and influence as a force for good, inspiring myself and the other attendees of the Net Impact Conference to further these principles.

Written by Natalie Colvin

Natalie is a 2016 MBA from the Center for Sustainable Business Practices. The experience of living abroad in Costa Rica, instilled in Natalie a passion for improving the world. After completing her MBA, she hopes to bring this passion to a career in corporate environmental and advocacy campaigns. Natalie received a dual undergraduate degree in development anthropology and Latin American studies from the University of Arizona honors college where she was also on the equestrian team.

Asia, Engaged

In the two weeks prior to school starting this fall, a significant portion of Oregon MBA students took a trip to Asia in an effort to learn about a foreign business culture. A prerequisite for this trip was taking a class called “Global Business Environments”. While I learned a great deal about many business cultures from that class, this pales in comparison to what I learned about Asia on just the first few days on this trip. This really speaks to the importance of getting out of the classroom and truly experiencing the culture.

What I will remember from this trip:

  • The juxtaposition of Chinese culture – it is hard to get used to seeing Prada stores and Ferrari dealerships next to crumbling housing developments.
  • The culture of sport in China – Only a handful of children are selected to pursue sports (for Olympic development) while most end up devoting 100% of their time to education or vocational skills. This means that there isn’t a big sports culture among the majority of the Chinese population because they didn’t grow up playing sports like we do. However, this is slowly changing, recreational basketball courts are springing up everywhere.
  • The utopian nature of Singapore – still wheezing from my time in Beijing, Singapore was literally a breath of fresh air. Due to the nature of being a city-state, Singapore has developed into a economic hub for Southeast Asia. And as such, the country has strict laws about cleanliness and many other matters that helps maintain a very western culture despite its location.
  • The impressive quality and quantity of meetings – our agenda was packed with meetings with some amazing people; David Shoemaker (CEO, NBA China), Larry Namer (founder of E! Network), Ian Charles Stewart (Wired magazine cofounder), Cheah Kim Teck (CEO, Singapore Sports Council), Chris Renner (CEO, Helios Partners), and the list could go on.

Needless to say, my time in Asia was an amazing experience. From bonding with classmates, to shaking hands with business leaders on the other side of the world, everything exceeded my expectations. It almost made me want to work in China. Almost.

 

Written by Foster Boone

Foster is a second year MBA student in the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. He joined the Oregon MBA program after five years in the advertising industry. He hopes to apply his professional experience and academic learning to a brand management role upon completion of the program. When he is not thinking about marketing he is usually giving into his inner nerd or his inner athlete, depending on the weather.

Warsaw Class of 2014: Midterms and Movember

Week #6 of Fall term is officially in the books, and the first year MBA students breathed a collective sigh of relief after successfully completing our first round of graduate school midterms. This term we are taking Financial Accounting, Quantitative Methods for Managers, Fundamentals of Finance, Managing Individuals and Organizations, Marketing Management, and a one-credit hour Sports Business Seminar. Taking six classes has challenged us, but being able to establish a strong foundation in the core business disciplines at the beginning of the program is extremely valuable.

When not studying this week, we had the opportunity to attend a sports marketing career panel sponsored by the Lundquist College of Business Career Services team on Monday night. Alumni panelists representing several prominent sports companies and agencies, such as Nike, Adidas and Wieden and Kennedy were in attendance. The discussion primarily focused on the concept of networking, which is a vital skill to develop for anyone hoping to break into the sports industry. The panelists offered a lot of practical networking and job search tips and advice that students in our class will be able to put into practice when we begin applying for summer internship opportunities over the next few months.

On Tuesday afternoon, we were fortunate enough to receive a visit from sports executive Andy Dolich during our Sports Business Seminar. Dolich has worked in the front offices of the Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Capitals, Oakland Athletics, Memphis Grizzlies and San Francisco 49ers, among others, and currently runs his own sports consultancy organization. Dolich began by conducting a Jeopardy-style sports quiz during which he handed out paraphernalia to the students with correct answers. He then touched on a wide range of subjects, from current issues in each of America’s main sports, to the future of professional women’s sports and the biggest areas for growth in sports across the globe, and wrapped things up with a Q&A session. For us, it was a fantastic opportunity to gain insight from someone who has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in the professional sports world.

Thursday marked the start of “Movember”, an international campaign in which men grow moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, specifically prostate and testicular cancer research. You can read more about “Movember” here: http://us.movember.com/about/. The University of Oregon is very active in this initiative, and two Warsaw students, Mitzi Ing and Dylan Packebush, are co-chairs for the university’s efforts. On Sunday, Sigma Nu fraternity is hosting a kickball tournament as a “Movember” fundraiser. Last year, MBA teams finished in first and second place in the tournament, so we plan to defend the title and have a great time this weekend! Keep checking the blog for more “Movember” updates as well as recaps of some outstanding speaker panels and events we have planned for the remainder of the term!

-Dan Hall and Perry Hammond, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, Class of 2014

Written by Dan Hall

Dan is a member of Oregon MBA Class of 2014 concentrating his studies within the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.